Earlier this year, we have the Redmi Note 7. About a month ago, we have the Redmi note 8 Pro. Xiaomi Malaysia is really bringing in smartphones as fast as possible after its initial launch in China, as a thank you gift for the support that they’re been getting. With such a short time gap between generations of phones, what new features or hardware does the Redmi Note 8 Pro bring to the table?
Let’s find out in today’s review of the company’s highly-anticipated mid-range smartphone, the Redmi Note 8 Pro.
The phone comes in this rather simple packaging. A simple box that just shows the phone’s front and back with a slightly angled view.
The overall unboxing experience is rather basic as well – as we only get the bare minimum with the phone itself:
- The Redmi Note 8 Pro
- 18W charger
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Transparent TPU case
- User guide and warranty card
No earphones, which I think maybe for the better. Reduce the cost and most of us already have our own pair of earphones/headphones anyway.
The overall shape of the Redmi Note 8 Pro is quite generic despite being thicker to house the larger battery. You have a curved back that creates a very comfortable grip, and it comes with a variety of different colors too. It is now available in Pearl White, Mineral Grey, and also Forest Green. My personal favorite out of the three is the Forest Green, which is the exact model that we got for review.
Xiaomi claims that they are using Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for both the front and the back of the Redmi Note 8 Pro. Whatever the glass is, I realize that underneath the back glass, it has a matte texture layer above the green color. I don’t know why, but I love this touch despite being very difficult to even see the rather dark Forest Green color.
Connectivity & Ports
The Redmi Note 8 Pro has pretty much all of the connectivity that we’ve come to expect. It has WiFi 5, which is also known as AC-WiFi, so you can take advantage of your Unifi Turbo. To my surprise, the Redmi Note 8 Pro also has NFC. It’s quite rare to see mid-range smartphones have NFC, and it’s something nice to have.
Keeping up to the tradition, the Redmi Note 8 Pro also has an IR blaster at the top, just like its predecessors. Again, it’s something nice to have – and I control my room’s AC using the phone now.
You also have the standard audio jack, speaker, and USB-C charging port at the bottom.
Unfortunately, the Redmi Note 8 Pro still comes with a nano SIM + combo slot, which means you can either put two nano SIM cards or one nano SIM + one microSD card slot. Many other smartphones of this price range have triple card slots.
All of the buttons are on the right side of the phone, which is also the same as the Redmi Note 7.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro also comes with a physical fingerprint scanner at the back of the phone – which I prefer. Xiaomi hid the physical fingerprint scanner so well that it is actually at the bottom of the camera array. Very clean design.
While many other smartphones have migrated to AMOLED displays, Xiaomi is sticking with a more conventional IPS LCD display here. Now, there’s nothing wrong here since Xiaomi is using a high-quality display that is both bright and has great colors. I’m rather surprised by the display quality, actually.
And this IPS LCD display is the reason why Xiaomi did not use an under-display fingerprint scanner. I’d say this is for the better.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro has a 6.53-inch display with 1080p in resolution and also a tiny waterdrop notch at the top. That means the phone is actually rather huge when compared to other smartphones in the market – but that’s up to your personal preference.
When it comes to the main selling point of the Redmi Note 8 Pro, it’s got to be the cameras. The Redmi Note 8 Pro is Malaysia’s first smartphone to have that Samsung GW1 sensor that has 64MP in total. But that’s not all – as the Redmi Note 8 Pro comes with a total of 4 cameras:
- Quadruple rear-facing cameras
- Main: 64MP Samsung GW1 sensor with f/1.89
- Ultrawide angle: 8MP f/2.2
- Macro: 2MP f/2.4 with AF; 2cm
- Depth sensor
- 20MP f/2.0 selfie camera
Honestly speaking, I had a lot of fun with the Redmi Note 8 Pro and its cameras. Let’s take a look at the pictures taken with this phone. You can view the full resolution alongside with the metadata over at our Shutterfly album here.
I have to say – Xiaomi really did a lot of optimization for the Redmi Note 8 Pro’s camera. I have no idea how Xiaomi did it, but the Redmi Note 8 Pro can take 64MP pictures and process them faster than their own Xiaomi Mi 9 that has a Sony IMX586 – a 48MP sensor. My mind was blown!
Taking 64MP shots mean that HDR and “AI” are disabled. The pictures also turn out to the very dark. At least we can use that 64MP camera in manual mode, though.
However, I do wish that Xiaomi would just ditch the depth sensor entirely. The Redmi Note 8 Pro is near perfect – but I do wish for a telephoto camera. Though, the argument here is that there is no need for a telephoto camera since you can take a 64MP photo and crop it anyway. But I beg to differ – the picture won’t look and feel the same.
The ultrawide angle camera doesn’t wow us or differentiate itself from what we’ve seen before. The pictures came out of the ultrawide angle camera looks fine, and I’m okay with that.
Then comes the macro camera on the Redmi Note 8 Pro, which has autofocusing! This makes the macro camera so much easier to used compared to the HONOR 20, HONOR 20 Pro, and the Nova 5T (essentially a copy-paste of HONOR 20), and the realme 5 series of smartphones.
That autofocus really is a blessing here as each of my macro shots is just laser-sharp in focus. However, taking the picture in 64MP and cropping it down is actually even better than the macro camera. So I’m not sure why the macro camera exists in the first place.
It’s not good. There is no stabilization for any of the cameras – EIS or OIS. The main 64MP camera can only record at either 4K 30fps or at 1080p at 120fps, while the ultrawide angle camera can only record at 1080p 30fps max.
Software – Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI Global 10.4.5.0
As of now, Xiaomi is already rolling out the MIUI 11 update for many of their smartphones. We’re not sure when this phone is getting that update, but it’s running on Android 9.0 Pie with MIUI 10 as of the time of this review is being prepared.
It’s the usual MIUI 10 that we’ve seen on many other Xiaomi smartphones that we’ve reviewed. Take the Mi 9, Redmi Note 7 or the Mi 9T Pro for example. The Redmi Note 8 Pro runs exactly the same in terms of software. There is one difference – the camera UI. Xiaomi has finally integrated the ultrawide angle camera into the zoom slider. Took them long enough.
The only real extra feature that I can see here are the digital wellbeing and aptly name “special features” in the settings menu. Within this “special features” is where the new game speed booster is found. It’s pretty much Xiaomi’s version of those game launcher/managers that other smartphones have (eg. Armoury Crate in the ROG Phone 2, Game Launcher in any Samsung smartphones). Helps to declutter the home screen too, since MIUI does not have an app drawer.
Performance & Gaming
Here’s a really fun thing to test. The Redmi Note 8 Pro comes with a MediaTek chipset. Before you go down to the comments section below and complain, stay with us here a while because the Redmi Note 8 Pro uses a high-end MediaTek chipset.
Here are the specs of the Redmi Note 8 Pro:
- 6.53-inch IPS LCD display with waterdrop notch
- 2340×1080 pixels in resolution
- MediaTek Helio G90T chipset
- 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
- Up to 128GB storage (UFS 2.1)
- 4,500mAh battery with 18W fast charging support
With that out of the way, let’s look at the benchmarks first.
Yeah, no joke. The MediaTek Helio G90T is a serious performer and it beat up most of the non-flagship chipsets in the market. The only chipset that the MediaTek Helio G90T didn’t manage to defeat is the Snapdragon 730 found in the Galaxy A80.
Going in, I was not expecting the MediaTek Helio G90T to be such a powerful chipset. In this sense, the Redmi Note 8 Pro is technically more powerful than the Mi 9T, which also uses a Snapdragon 730 chipset. Now that is just amazing.
Obviously, this chipset has no problems running any games that we threw at it. If you do want to know more about the gaming prowess of the Redmi Note 8 Pro, you can click here to learn more.
Despite having such great performance, we do not feel the Redmi Note 8 Pro becoming hot. It’s just a little warmer than usual, and that’s it.
Battery & Charger
For the MediaTek Helio G90T, I can only say this – with brute-forcing for great performance comes great inefficiency – and that’s exactly what we saw with the Redmi Note 8 Pro. Despite having a thicker body to house that 4,500mAh battery, the Redmi Note 8 Pro’s battery life is just disappointing at best.
It can’t even touch the 10-hour mark in our battery life benchmark – which just tells us just how inefficient the chipset is. However, we wonder where those energy went since the phone doesn’t really get real hot in the first place.
As for the charger, Xiaomi has included an 18W charger inside the box with the Redmi Note 8 Pro, and the phone charges via USB-C too. Finally, we can see mid-range smartphones making a strong push towards USB-C.
However, when it comes to our battery life test, we realized that the software is aggressively suspending apps and not listening to the battery-saving settings that I have manually configured. Despite trying many times with different settings, I can’t log the battery charging curve. However, we do get the critical charging percentages and their respective times taken.
Time taken (minutes)
Bundled 5V 2A charger (10W)
Aftermarket 5V 2A charger (10W)
Wrapping up the Redmi Note 8 Pro review
This phone is perfect for those who have a limited budget, but want to try the latest features. Obviously it doesn’t have all the latest gimmicks as it still uses a physical fingerprint scanner at the back (which I prefer) and an IPS LCD display. Personally, I’m okay with that. The Redmi Note 8 Pro is a pretty decent phone in itself as it also offers fantastic levels of performance!
When it comes to the cameras – I really love the 64MP camera. This is the first time I’m using a smartphone with a 64MP camera, and Xiaomi did a great job optimizing their software to work with that Samsung GW1 64MP sensor. I enjoyed my time taking pictures with that camera way more than I should.
My biggest disappointment about the Redmi Note 8 Pro is going to be the battery life. Despite having a big 4,500mAh battery, the battery life is just terrible. At least it does have 18W quick charging, though.
Would I recommend the Redmi Note 8 Pro? Yes, especially if you are into smartphone photography. That 64MP can do wonders with some editing and post-processing, and even print out a poster. Or get down and take some macro shots with the autofocusing macro camera. Too bad there’s no telephoto camera, though.
Please bear in mind that smartphone photography will never be as great as DSLR photography when it comes to picture quality. Smartphone photography is truly convenient – and I agree, but it shouldn’t be compared to DSLR or mirrorless cameras.
The Redmi Note 8 PRo is currently available in two configurations with these prices:
- 6GB RAM + 64GB storage @ RM1,099
- 6GB RAM + 128GB storage @ RM1,199